#CFP: Science Fiction Research Association, Facing the Future, Facing the Past: Colonialism, Inidigeneity, and SF

#CFP: Science Fiction Research Association, Facing the Future, Facing the Past: Colonialism, Inidigeneity, and SF October 23, 2018

A call for papers on a topic of interest, in a highly appealing venue:

Friday, June 21 – Monday, June 24, 2019
Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii

Conference Theme: Facing the Future, Facing the Past: Colonialism, Inidigeneity, and SF
Keynote Speaker: Nalo Hopkinson

The Science Fiction Research Association invites proposals for its 2019 annual conference, to be held on the campus of Chaminade University, Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I ka wā mua, ka wā ma hope” is a Hawaiian proverb that can be translated, “In the past lies the future,” or more literally, “In what is in front of you is found what is behind you.” In the Native Hawaiian way of thinking, according to scholar Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa, “The Hawaiian stands firmly in the present, with his back to the future, and his eyes fixed upon the past, seeking historical answers for present-day dilemmas.” Another way of interpreting this saying might be, you must face the past to prepare yourself for the future. Thinking about this Hawaiian proverb in the context of science fiction brings up questions about ways of knowing, ways of orienting ourselves in time and space, the relation of our notions of the possible to our understanding of history, the ethical and political obligations of our scientific-technological practice in relation to the past and the future, and our expectations of social change as well as our sense of how it comes about.

SFRA 2019 will meet in Hawai‘i, a set of islands that after two and a half centuries of Western contact has become the world leader in species extinction, while being transformed during the nineteenth century from a wholly self-sustaining civilization into a plantation economy dominated by export crops and ravaged by epidemics that reduced the Native Hawaiian population by 80% or more, and whose political sovereignty was stolen by the settler-controlled and US-military-aided overthrow of the monarchy in 1893. As we plan to meet on this occupied land with its long history of indigenous resistance to colonial incursion, we welcome papers and panels on the relation of science fiction to colonial history and its ongoing effects, to the contemporary ecological crisis, to issues of political and economic justice, and to past and ongoing visions of the future.

Topics related to the conference theme include the relation of SF to the following:

* indigenous futurism
* colonial fantasies & indigenous survivance
* explorers, settlers, and natives
* indigenization v. cultural assimilation of forms & genres
* the dynamics of recognition, versions of the colonial gaze
* the “post” in postcolonialism
* decolonial speculative fiction
* the symbiosis of colonialism & capitalism
* epistemology in the contact zone
* speculative technologies of resistance
* Native and regional disruptions of the colonial biopolitical order
* indigenous intellectual property in light of transgenics, genetic modification, & other man-made mutations
* biopolitical imperialism, biopiracy, bioprospecting
* food security, organic & smart farming
* ecocriticism & the anthropocene
* progress v. sustainability
* estranging empire, rethinking centers and margins
* world systems & world construction
* world, nation, & culture: imagined communities and communities of practice

We also welcome papers on topics relevant to science fiction research broadly conceived that are not specifically related to the conference theme.

Graduate students are encouraged to apply and attend; as with previous SFRA conferences, the first day of conference programming will include roundtables and workshops targeted at early-career teachers and researchers working in SF studies and in the study of popular culture more generally.

300-500 word abstracts should be sent to rieder@hawaii.edu by March 1, 2019. Notification of acceptance will occur by April 1, 2019. We also welcome submission of preconstituted panels and roundtables.

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  • John MacDonald

    James said:

    “The Hawaiian stands firmly in the present, with his back to the future, and his eyes fixed upon the past, seeking historical answers for present-day dilemmas.” Another way of interpreting this saying might be, you must face the past to prepare yourself for the future.

    But do we not say the past is primitive, that which has been overcome by the present and future? Perhaps not.

    Perhaps we are only beginning to approach the fundamentals of the ground which was laid in the past. Consider the concept of THE NEGATIVE:

    Heraclitus said “physis kryptesthai philei,” Being loves to hide: “Being” or “Nature” being understood in the sense of “it’s not in his ‘nature’ to be late.” But perhaps since Being loves to hide, it needs to be coaxed out of hiding, a-letheia (uncovered – truth).

    For instance, in Being and Time Heidegger analyzes how the ready-to-handness of equipment is coaxed out of hiding when we reach for a tool and it is missing. The readiness-to-hand of the equipment is produced, precisely in the tool being absent. Also, in his lecture course on the Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, we see how the present-at-handness of beings is coaxed out of hiding when the entity is in dispute (eg., if it is in dispute whether a being is heavy, we appeal to it “at hand”).

    Similarly, Heidegger says a torn sock is better than a mended one, in that in the tearing, the prior “unity” of the sock that we overlooked in our everyday dealings is produced, precisely “as a lost unity.”

    Also, the fundamental ground of humans as a being satiated by and addicted to beings is produced when we are forced into a being-away-from-beings, such as when, in punishment, we send a child to sit in the corner facing the wall, where they have to “endure” the stretching out of time (langweil in German, the stretching out of time, boredom). We also experience this stretching out of time sitting in a train station late at night waiting for a train to come that is late. The lateness un-covers a fundamental boredom underlying the situation.

    Swiss Psychiatrist Medard Boss says:

    Medard Boss: Our patients force us to see the human being in his essential ground because the modem neuroses of boredom and meaninglessness can no longer be drowned out by glossing over or covering up particular symptoms of illness. If one treats those symptoms only, then another symptom will emerge again and again … They no longer see meaning in their life and … they have become intolerably bored

    We also see the immediate access we have to Being when we hear a “living thing,” only to look down and see it was just the rustling of dead leaves. The category “living thing” was immediately present and accessed, not just something abstracted to. This is realized when we “mist-take” the rustling, dead leaves for a living thing.

    All of this was contained in the simple saying from the past by Heraclitus that I quoted. Perhaps there is something to Nietzsche’s aphoristic style. Heidegger says the fact we need books of 400 pages or more to express ourselves shows just how far we are from essential thinking.

    I like the emphasis on the past expressed as part of the essence of this conference. Perhaps it is not to late to re-visit what has long since been covered up, yet still hides beneath the surface of what we are today. physis kryptesthai philei

    • John MacDonald

      And is not the present age, where we are hyper-addicted to beings, further evidence that the call of the Philosophers needs to be heeded, now more than ever? Just think of how long you spend distracting yourself on your cell phone/social media every day, and how anxious/boring life presents itself to be when you can’t find your cell phone.

      • John MacDonald

        One last thought along these lines: As the technology improves, humans may one day move toward a world where people all but abandon normal life, and replace it with the stimulation and immersion of Virtual Reality, like in the Sci Fi movie “Ready Player One.”

    • robrecht

      A torn sock is NOT better than a mended one. Don’t need a 400-page book to figure that out. Heidegger wasn’t smart.

      • John MacDonald

        It would be helpful if you explained why you think Heidegger is wrong?

        When Heidegger says a torn sock is better than a whole one, he means the “category of unity” that pertains to the Being of the sock (which remained hidden in our everyday dealing with the sock), has been “coaxed” to the surface in the tearing, precisely as a ” lost unity.” Hence, we say the “unity,” which makes up part of the Being of the sock, is not just abstracted to, but can be “produced” in our tearing of it.

        This method of Phenomenological coaxing, which differs from Husserl sitting around and trying to intuit essences, is very useful in my eyes.

        Maybe you are simply misunderstanding, so I did an introductory post on my online diary for you about the Phenomenology of Boredom as Heidegger sees it. Perhaps you can read it explain what it is about the Content (What-Being) or Methodology (How-Being) that you are finding fault with? Phenomenology just involves describing, so I don’t see why I am doing it incorrectly? Here is the introductory post I wrote for you: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/2018/10/an-introduction-to-phenomenology-of.html

        • robrecht

          Hi, John. I’m sorry you went to so much trouble. I was just making a joke. But note your initial contrast was not between a whole sock and a torn sock, but rather between a torn sock and a mended sock. I submit the insight gained in the tearing of a sock remains and is perhaps even further realized in the mending process.

          • John MacDonald

            No trouble. Philosophy is my first intellectual love and I enjoy talking about it!

          • robrecht
          • John MacDonald

            Sophocles’ Antigone: “Polla ta deina kouden anthropou deinoteron pelei…” (“Manifold is the uncanny, but none more uncanny/unhomely than man”). Man is “apolis,” homeless, striving toward the warmth/satiety of the hearth fire, parestios.

          • John MacDonald

            Yet even so, the homely is not attained in this activity: as the ode says, man “comes to nothing.”